Rep. Cole is chairman of the NRCC.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush’s poll numbers are hovering around 30 percent and Congress’s are even lower, but National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, said Thursday he “feels good” about his party’s chances in the 2008 congressional races.
In a briefing with reporters, Cole said the NRCC has recruited 15 to 20 “strong candidates” in districts that were closely fought in 2006, and said they were “pragmatic professional decision makers." He also said he expects an anti-incumbent mood to collectively benefit his party, which currently finds itself in the minority.
But Cole’s job is made more difficult by the NRCC’s financial disadvantage relative to its counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Cole said Thursday that the committee raised between $13 million and $14 million dollars in the second quarter, and currently only has $2 million cash on hand. Meanwhile the DCCC said Thursday it had raised $17 million in the same period and has $19.5 million on hand - nearly ten times more than the NRCC.
Both committees face debts of around $4 million.
As for the President’s influence in the congressional races, Cole said "he won't be the decisive figure in the '08 election. There will be a new face on the Republican Party."
Cole also downplayed the effect of any particular Democratic candidate in motivating his party’s voters.
“I don’t think people vote for or against their representative on the basis of their presidential nominee,” he said.
- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney